My favourite golfing article – how to conquer fear in golf
The following article is an excerpt from my all time favourite golf article. These words are from the book, The Hogan Manual Of Human Performance – Golf, by Gerry Hogan. One of the last chapters is called The Conquest of Fear and is in my opinion worth the price of the entire book plus more. I encourage any golfer to read the complete article…and the book isn’t too bad either.
Anyway, here is part of Hogan’s chapter that should put things into perspective for all golfers;
The Conquest Of Fear – by Gerry Hogan
…it has always seemed to me that 90 percent of golfers never manage to extract from golf more than 10 percent of the pleasure that the game offers. This is a very sad state of affairs, and if this book did more than help readers get more enjoyment from golf by reshaping their attitude to it, then I feel it had succeeded. Golf is a game of penalties-the trees and the water and the sand aren’t put on the golf course for golfers to admire but for golfers to fear. Yet what precisely is the golfer afraid of? The trees and water and sand cannot themselves do any harm. No, the cause of the fear is the system of penalties-the numbers game.
Humans have been rearranging the landscape for thousands of years, but only in a few instances have they succeeded in matching or improving on the beauty of nature. The golf course is often one of them. The hours you spend going around the course ought to be hours of delight and freedom from everyday cares. The golfer might well respond to this by saying, sure, he would enjoy the delights of the course a lot more if he could only hit the ball a lot better. Well, herein lies a paradox. You first must learn to hit the ball without fear of the possible consequences and, only after that to write down the numbers. This not to say you should adopt a bill-at-the-gate attitude. Rather, you should first weigh up all the variables; second, decide what you have to do; and third, execute that decision without fear of what may happen.
What I have suggested here is actually the essence of positive thinking. It leaves the golfer no way out, no easy excuse path, no cushions. Either you have the courage to do what you have decided should be done or you don’t have it. If you don’t have it, you cannot buy it, steal it or disguise from yourself the fact that you don’t have it. Courage has to be earned the hard way. You can but books and videos and study how the champions swing a club, but that alone can never make you a great player. If you watch, say, Jack Nicklaus in action, all you see is the external, visible dimension of his golf swing. You don’t see the courage that underpins every shot that he plays. Courage is the fuel that drives the human machine to greater heights. If you want to play like Nicklaus, I suggest you have a long, hard talk with yourself before you go pounding thousands of balls a week in pursuit of a dream. Nicklaus freed himself of fear, so he was able to soar like an eagle. If fear has reduced you to a sparrow, no amount of lessons or new clubs will help you fly any higher…
…Here is a rule of thumb that has served me well over the years: if you don’t like something, change it. If you meet it head-on but cannot change it, then walk away from it and forget it. If you choose to do neither of these, then learn to live with the misery that will surely come your way….
…You might collect a few scars by taking this positive approach, but remember that scars are always found on heroes, rarely on cowards.
I hope you enjoyed the article…